How Screen Time Can Affect Babies

Your baby is hungry … again. Especially in the early days, when it feels like you’re feeding your baby pretty much constantly, turning on the TV or your phone can be a sanity saver. And phone apps can be helpful in tracking your baby’s schedule, too.

But did you know that too much screen time can actually interfere with your little one’s eating and sleeping? We’re not suggesting you give up your screen time, but we want to help you strike a balance that’s better for your baby and still works for you.

Mom breastfeeding infant while on phone

Babies naturally use feeding time to bond with you, make eye contact, and learn to smile and laugh as you interact. So, while screen time isn’t all bad, it can keep you from enjoying these special moments. Not only might you be missing out on these little moments but you could also be missing when your baby is showing you they are all done eating through displaying fullness cues.

And, if you are using your phone to enjoy some scrolling time, the light can disrupt and distract your baby from feeding or falling asleep.

Tip: Use feeding time to get to know your baby, learn their hunger and fullness cues, and take a little break from your screen.

Nursing mom playing a game with older toddler

Need motivation to dial down your screen time? Consider these benefits:

  1. You and baby will sleep better.
  2. You’ll be better able to recognize when your baby is showing hunger or fullness cues.
  3. You'll have an easier time giving older siblings some attention during feeding times. If you are able to feed with one hand, you can use the other hand to play a simple game, such as Connect 4, or help your other child draw or color.
  4. You’ll be more comfortable with both hands free to adjust your baby, drink a glass of water or eat a healthy snack.

This doesn’t mean you have to power off completely when you’re with your baby, but it’s good to limit phone use to sending a short text (especially if you’re responding to an offer for help!), checking the weather for a walk with your baby or tracking their feeding times.

The noise from the TV and the light from the cell phone tell your baby’s body it’s time to wake up, so try to keep screens out of the room where they sleep. Feed your baby in a dark, quiet space before bed and during the night, which will help your baby learn to drift back off to sleep.